50 Business Challenges: Continuity

What happens if your premises burn down? Or you have a heart attack, the IT system crashes or you get flooded? Will your business continue?

You need a plan to cope. There are consultants who are experts in business continuity planning who can help (this does not include me) but they can be expensive.

I doubt though that it is possible to create the perfect plan, and it is better to take even a few steps to reduce risk rather than none at all.

The Challenge for today: check that your data is backed up and test whether it can be restored. (You may need to get someone to do this, to ensure that current data is safe). If not, urgently pursue a working backup system.

Four other points to start with:

Big risk – ideally, brainstorm all the possible risks to your business, and score them on likelihood of occurrence, and on consequences of occurrence. In other words, some things are not very likely, but can devastate your business. Pick some relatively likely events with serious consequences, and plan how to deal with managing the risk and the consequences. For example, if your premises are next to a river, what are your plans for a flood? You might plan to move all papers and computers off the floor in the event of a flood warning – who will do it, and how yill you contact them. What happens if you simply cannot access your premises for a week?

Cash – the lifeblood of business. If the worst happens will you know who owes you money and who has paid? Or indeed who your own creditors are? What’s the plan to deal with this?

Where – if your premises burned down tonight, where would you set up tomorrow? Could you operate from the kitchen table, or are there serviced offices nearby? How is anyone going to know where you are?

People – they are easy to forget in this process. An automatic backup of their brains is not possible! So sharing and writing down plans is important. Insurance is also possible, so life insurance on important people can at least fund a replacement.

This is not close to a comprehensive plan, but only a starting point. Add to your plan, and keep it under regular review on a specific timetable.

And having drawn up a plan, ensure that a copy is kept offsite by the person who has to put it into effect. It’s not much use if it has turned to ash like the rest of the office!

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